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Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

xiii                         FEEDING OF  THE GLUTTON                       435
The genus Mustela includes the Martens and Sables, which are
distinguished from the following genus by the molar formula.,
which is Pm -J M -J-. The same character separates them from
Galictis, and also the generally hairy under surface of the feet.
In more southern latitudes, however, the palms are sometimes
naked. The nose is grooved, and the ears are short and broad.
The genus is widely distributed, being common to the Old and
New Worlds. In the Old World it extends from Europe to Java,
Sumatra, and Borneo. The largest species of the genus is the
American Pekan, an animal which may be 46 inches in length,
including the tail. There are two species of Sable, one European
(Jú zibellina), the other American.
The only British species of the genus is the Pine Marten,
jfeT wiartes. It is dark brown, with a brownish-yellow throat, and
reaches a length of some 17 inches, with an eight-inch tail. It
is getting rare, but is still fairly common in the Lake country.
The animal is largely arboreal in habit, whence the vernacular
name. It is also called Marten Cat. The allied M.foina, the
Beech Marten, has been stated to be, but apparently is not, an
inhabitant of these islands. The colour of the animal is a rich
brown. It has small eyes and ears and a short tail. The palms
of the hands and the soles of the feet are hairy; the muzzle is
naked, and has a groove as in Cercoleptes, etc.
The Glutton, Gulo, is a well-marked genus, containing but
one species, which is circurnpolar in range. The dentition is
Pm -f- M -J-. The ferocity but not the voracity of this animal
appears to have been exaggerated. It mainly feeds on carcases,
and is not really a successful hunter. As to the carcases, Olaus
Magnus tells in straightforward language the way in which the
animal dilates in size during a meal, and presently, after follow-
ing the practice of the ancient Romans, returns to the banquet:
" Creditur a natura creaturn ad ruborem hominum. qui vorando
bibendoque vomunt redeuiitque ad mensam " !
This is one of the few land animals -which ranges completely
round the pole. There is no difference to be noted between the
Old-World and the New-World specimens. It is now an entirely
northern form, but in Pleistocene times it reached as far south as
this country. The fossil species seems to be Gfulv luseus, and to be
quite indistinguishable from, the living forms.
^, the genus which embraces the Weasel tribe, contains